The six-day, sixty-mile Coal to Cape Wind “Energy Exodus” march began Wednesday in Fall River and will end up Monday in Barnstable. Climate activists and others concerned for the future will be traveling the sixty miles on foot, sleeping in churches along the way until they reach the end point in their journey.
The march is organized by the organization Better Future Project and its affiliate group 350 Massachusetts, the MA chapter of the international climate organization 350.org.
“The march will highlight the urgency with which we must turn away from fossil fuels and lead the way to a future of green jobs, clean air, and local, renewable energy,” 350MA member Ben Thompson said in an email statement.
“Energy Exodus,” as the march is being called, kicked off on Wednesday in Fall River with a rally near the site of the Brayton Point coal plant, one of the largest electric generating plants in New England. This rally follows up on a demonstration held at Brayton Point just a month ago, in which participants called on Gov. Patrick to shut down the coal-fired power plant. That action saw 44 people get arrested on a trespassing charge.
“I was actually one of the people who got arrested a month ago at Brayton Point, so I’m really excited to go back,” said Sophie Robinson, operations coordinator for Better Future Project. She said they will be starting the march across the river from the Brayton Point coal plant, “so we’ll see it in the distance and be able to wave it goodbye as we march to a solution.”
That solution is an America powered by renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, etc. While solar is starting to take off, wind power lags slightly behind. Jumpstarting America’s offshore wind industry would be a huge step forward not only in building up wind power in this country, but also in making America competitive in the global clean energy economy.
That is why the march will be ending on the Cape, where a decade-long battle has been fought over the Cape Wind project, the first proposed offshore wind farm in America. The project, which would consist of 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, is close to the start of construction, but has run into a series of roadblocks such as staunch opposition from local groups like Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Billionaire fossil fuel tycoon Bill Koch has also poured millions of dollars into the Cape Wind opposition.
The march’s concluding rally on Monday will aim to drum up support for the project. Rally participants will gather on the Village Green in Hyannis, where they will hear from several speakers including a few local Barnstable residents.
“We’re hoping that this march will really be exciting for people in that town, not only because a bunch of outsiders are coming to give it support, but also hopefully to send a message to everybody, to the people who are opposing it, that there is a lot of support for offshore wind in America,” Ms. Robinson said.
By marching from a coal plant to the site of a proposed offshore wind farm, these climate leaders will be literally moving from one energy source to another, sending the message that we need to move away from coal and towards clean sources of energy like wind.
“We’re actually showing the path that we need to take,” said Ms. Robinson.
She acknowledged the long, six-day trek will be “hard,” but also necessary to show that sometimes the hard road is the best road to take.
“It’s a hard sixty-mile, six day march, and I think that for a lot of Americans, the excuse they give for [not] transitioning to renewables is that it’s going to be too hard. That’s not really an acceptable excuse anymore because we’re out of good options. Our alternative to it being hard is destroying our future.”